Fly Fishing Canada was formed as a not-for-profit association in 1987, the purpose being to field fly-fishing teams to represent Canada at the annual World Fly Fishing Championships. At the time, despite the popularity of competitive fly fishing throughout Europe, it was virtually unknown to Canadian anglers. While most anglers initially associated it with typical North American fishing derbies, they quickly learned that WFFCs are conducted on the basis of friendship and understanding as expressed through the Olympic ideal. No money changes hands, only team trophies, plus gold, silver and bronze medals to the winning teams and the three top-ranking individuals.
Fly Fishing Canada teams have represented Canada at WFFCs since 1987, during which time firm bonds of friendship have been formed with competitors from the USA, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. As a result, many Team Canada members have attended several competitions over the years, including the first WFFC ever held outside of Europe, at Kamloops, BC, in 1993. At the urging of Fly Fishing Canada, the first Conservation Symposium was held in conjunction with this event, and since then has become an integral part of every WFFC.
The Conservation Symposium is now a major condition for hosting a WFFC, in that the country, state or province making a bid must have a track record in areas such as improving water quality; fish and wetlands habitat; the health and well-being of fish stocks; recreational fishing opportunities and their ease of accessibility to the general public; and the effects of urbanization, agriculture, aquaculture, mining, forestry and hydro development. The topics addressed may be of local, regional, national or global significance.
The National Fly Fishing Championships and Conservation Symposium is based on the WFFC criteria, and follows them as closely as possible. This provides good training for the competitors who may go on to represent Canada at WFFCs, and also for the host community, which may bid for future NFFCs, and even for a WFFC the next time it is scheduled for Canada. Perhaps it’s worth noting that my contacts in Kamloops assure me that each year since 1993 has seen former competitors from Europe and Japan returning to fish the local lakes.
Everything hinges on the organization, and it pays to be flexible. Each of the events has added more benefit of experience to the mix, so despite a few hiccups the end results have been positive. Enough so that all of the host areas of past NFFCs are eager to get involved with future NFFCs, and three have expressed interest in hosting a WFFC and/or Commonwealth Championship.
The backbone of these events are the volunteers, most of whom are members of rod & gun clubs, fly-fishing clubs, and community service organizations. While it’s a fact that those who are unfamiliar with competitive fly fishing might be hesitant about becoming involved, it’s also a fact that observers at these championships quickly realize that the real competition is still between individual anglers and their quarry. Each fishes more or less as he or she would normally, but must follow regulations regarding the tackle that is used, and do so under the watchful eye of a local controller who ensures that any fish caught are properly handled, measured, and released as quickly as possible.
As was proved at Kamloops in 1993, the WFFC stimulated interest at the community level, increased the local economic activity, and provided a provincial, national and international focus on the area’s recreational fishing and other tourism opportunities. As this was also the case in Manitoba, Quebec, BC and Ontario, it would undoubtedly be repeated at Grande Prairie.
Volunteers who work on local conservation and rehabilitation projects have also reported that the media coverage has attracted the interest of politicians and industrial representatives who proved eager to get involved with a “positive project.” Either directly or indirectly, this resulted in money becoming available to fund various conservation projects.
While the host community provides the local organizing committee and volunteers, FFC will provide experienced advisors throughout the entire process, who will lend assistance in any way necessary.
If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact any of the following members of the FFC Site Investigation Committee:
Bob Jones, BC & Alberta, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Sheedy, Prairies, email@example.com
Don Moore, Ontario, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Iredale, Quebec, email@example.com
Paul Marriner, Maritimes, firstname.lastname@example.org
Attached is an official bid proposal. If you decide to pursue a NFFC, please fill it out and return it to Bob Jones, Chairman of the Site Investigation Committee, at his e-mail address above.